Keyboard shortcuts are an essential aspect of every productivity hacker’s workflow and the Mac operating system is famed for its long list of hotkeys designed to make users complete their work more easily and thus, quicker.
In fact, it’s possible to operate your system from boot to shutdown without touching your mouse or trackpad – but the efficiency varies from task to task so wisdom is specially profitable to direct.
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In any case, today’s article focuses on macOS shortcuts that are important to know. I’ve deliberately excluded common shortcuts like
⌘+A to select all,
⌘+S to save files,
⌘ + Q to quit the app in focus, and
⌘+F to launch the Find prompt for the currently open application.
"⌘" is the icon for “command” and there is a button on both sides of the space bar for the convenience of Mac users. So, without any further ado, here are the most useful Mac keyboard shortcuts that you should know.
1. Function-Delete to Forward Eelete
If you’re a new convert from a Windows or Linux PC then you might have gotten frustrated so many times from not having a backspace button. Macs come with only a delete button that deletes backward but how do you delete forward? Hold the
function key and tap
2. Command-Tab to Switch Apps
This is a nifty shortcut for quickly switching between the open applications.
⌘ + tab moves to the right and
⌘ + ~ moves to the left. You can quit any of the apps by hitting
Q when it is highlighted.
3. Command-Option-Esc to Force Quit
There are times when you hit
⌘ + Q but the app refuses to quit. The typical next move to make is to launch an activity monitor and forcefully close the app. But you wouldn’t have to do that any longer now that you know the function’s shortcut. You’re welcome.
4. Command-spacebar for Spotlight
Apple’s spotlight is one of the coolest features on Macbooks because, from it, users can make calculations, launch apps, search for files or directories, run scripts, etc. In fact, it’s possible for a complete newcomer to macOS to find anything s/he wants by simply invoking the spotlight. And while the spotlight (magnifying glass) icon lives in the top-right corner of the desktop’s title bar by default, you don’t have to move your mouse any longer.
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5. Command-Shift+3/4/5 to Take Screenshots
If you need to take screenshots often then you’re in luck because of macOS ships with nifty shortcuts that enable you to do so by combining 3 buttons.
⌘+Shift+3takes a shot of the entire window.
⌘+Shift+4activates a rectangular cropping tool for users to select their area of interest.
⌘+Shift+5activates all the screenshotting tools which allow users to choose the area of the screen that they want to capture; whether they want to make a screen recording; and where the files should be saved to.
Once completed, the screenshot image or screen recording (video) will open in the default viewing application in case editing is necessary.
6. Command+Control+Q to Lock
Imagine that you have to quickly move away from your Mac to talk to a colleague; answer a call privately, or take a quick break. This command enables you to lock your Mac immediately and ask for a password when it wakes even when you don’t have auto-lock enabled.
7. Click+Space Bar
You can get a preview of any file by clicking on it or navigating to it with the arrow keys and tapping the space bar. This is especially efficient when you want to preview a PDF, word document, MP3, or video file without fully launching the app.
If you want, you can preview multiple files at once by holding down
⌘ and clicking on the files of choice and then pressing
⌘ + Y. This is a cool feature every other OS user envies.
8. Shift+Option+Volume / Brightness Controls
Shift + Option with the volume or brightness controls allows you to increment/decrement the respective control options using smaller units since each bar is divided into quarters. Try it out right now and see for yourself.
9. Command-M to Minimize Apps
Would you like to quickly minimize an app window?
⌘+M saves you anything from 1 to 5 seconds depending on how conversant you are with your trackpad. Bear in mind, though, that this doesn’t work on app windows in full-screen mode.
10. Command-H to Hide Apps
Would you like to quickly hide the apps on your screen from an approaching person within a second? Hit
⌘+H and the active application will vanish. I.e. it will not even show up on the right side of your dock. Even cooler is the shortcut to make all non-full-screen app windows vanish – just hold down
⌘+Option and click on any visible part of your desktop.
Well, now that the apps do not show in the dock how do you bring them back? Click on the app’s icon on either the dock or the App Switcher. Abracadabra!
Some Browser Shortcuts
These shortcuts are not specific to Mac users but their effectiveness cannot be overemphasized.
⌘+L: Jump to the URL field
⌘+T: Open a new tab
⌘+W: Close currently active tab
⌘+Shit+T: Open the last closed tab in Chrome and Opera
⌘+Z: Open the last closed tab in Safari
Did you know that you can create your own keyboard commands? Head to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts and choose one of the options in the left section. From there, you can quickly add keyboard shortcuts for supported functions
What are your favourite Mac keyboard shortcuts? You’re welcome to add yours in the discussion section below.